SURREY SUCCESS AND DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR MIDDLESEX
Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club set in leafy Tettenhall were the perfect hosts for the WOMEN OVER 40, MEN OVER 45, MEN OVER 55 INTER COUNTY FINALS on the 26/27 February 2011
WOMEN OVER 40
SEMI A – SURREY v CHESHIRE
Holders Surrey quickly underlined their status as favourites for the title, with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Cheshire. Captain Tammy Bennett started the ball rolling with a 3-0 win over Liz West, and her team mates quickly followed suit, only dropping one game in the entire tie.
SEMI B – YORKSHIRE v KENT
This proved to be the tougher of the 2 semis, and although Yorkshire won 4-1, there were some very tight matches, none more so than between number 1 strings Paula Arrowsmith (Yorks) andMandy Akin (Kent) , which was a mixture of wonderful shot play and absorbing rallies, and saw Arrowsmith take it 9/2 in the 5th.
PLAY OFF – CHESHIRE v KENT
Kent were too strong for Cheshire in the Sunday morning play off. Belinda Openshaw was the only winner for Cheshire as Mandy Akin, Karen Hume, Sue Giles and Angie White took Kent to a deserved 3rd place finish.
FINAL – SURREY v YORKSHIRE
Surrey and Yorkshire are old rivals in this event, with the title swapping hands on a regular basis. Surrey strengthened Saturdays line up with the addition of Sandra Dunn (who had literally just jetted back from a holiday in Dubai), looked to have the slight edge. Jo Robinson at 5th string got things going for Surrey with a 3-1 win over Julie Nevins, but Lucy Robbins levelled things up with a tight 3-2 win over Tammy Bennett in the 3rd string match. No 1 Isabelle Tweedale continued her impressive form with a comfortable 3-0 win over Belinda Openshaw. Surrey then secured the title once again when Dunn beat Sarah Percy 3-1. Arguably the best match of the final was in the dead rubber 2nd string match between Claire Baker and Julie Field, which swung one way then the next, finally going Bakers way 9/2 in the 5th. A credit to both players.
4-1 to Surrey overall
MEN OVER 55
SEMI A – YORKSHIRE v MIDDLESEX
Yorkshire were handed a tough semi final against favourites Middlesex. With Mark Cowley andDuleep Adhihetty at 1st and 2nd strings Middlesex are a tough proposition and Yorkshire found them too hot to handle, losing 5-0.
SEMI B – DURHAM & CLEVELAND v SURREY
It was difficult to predict the outcome of the tie between holders Surrey and Durham & Cleveland,and it was hard fought all the way. Rob Thomson, Bob Spence and Dave Lumsden all won forDurham & Cleveland, Dave Clarke and Andy Wilde for Surrey. 3-2 to the Northerners.
PLAY OFF – YORKSHIRE v SURREY
Yorkshire beat Surrey (who only fielded 4 players due to the withdrawal of Dave Clarke through injury) 3-2 in an entertaining play off, with wins for Andy Kettlewell and Dave Lines.
FINAL – MIDDLESEX v DURHAM & CLEVELAND
Mark Cowley at first string started the tie off and quickly overcame a slightly jaded Dave Lumsden 3-0. A quick victory was important for Cowley, as will be revealed later…. Chris Goodbourn at 5th string for Middlesex had a wonderful match with Norman Turnbull, importantly nicking it 10/8 in the 5th, which gave Middlesex a 2 -0 lead. Stuart Hardy coming into fine form following a bad knee injury clinched the tie for Middlesex with a 3-0 win over Brian Duke at 3rdstring. Duleep Adhihetty beat Kevin Dryden 3-0 to make it 4-0 to Middlesex. Bob Spencesalvaged some pride for Durham as he beat Howard Cherlin 3-0 in the dead rubber match.
Middlesex champions once again 4-1
MEN OVER 45
SEMI A – LANCASHIRE v SURREY
With Dermot Hurford at 5th string Surrey boasted strength in depth and this saw them through against Lancashire 4-1, however it could have been closer for Lancashire had Nigel Willis not lost narrowly 9/7 in the 5th to Greg Pearman at 1st string in a lively encounter. Another great match was that between Ian Bradburn (Lancs) and Chris Harland (Surrey), which went the way of Bradburn 3-1.
SEMI B – YORKSHIRE v MIDDLESEX
Middlesex were keen to join neighbours Surrey in the final, but went one down in the 5th string match as Steve Jones beat Gordon Kerr 3-0. The ever reliable Alan Thomson levelled the match for Middlesex beating Keith Hinds 3-0, and it was plain sailing for Middlesex after that as they ran out 4-1 winners.
PLAY OFF – LANCASHIRE v YORKSHIRE
With pride at stake in a “War of the Roses” battle it was no surprise to see this one go to the wire. With the tie standing at 2-2, the outcome of the 2nd string match between Allen Day (Lancashire) and Keith Hinds (Yorkshire) would decide things. What a match it was as Allen clawed his way back from 2-0 down to take the 3rd 10/9 and the 4th 9/1. Hinds dug deep though, and won the match 9/5 in the 5th and the tie 3-2 to Yorkshire.
FINAL – SURREY v MIDDLESEX
More local pride was at stake in a “War of the Home Counties” Final, and like the play off, it went to the last match. Peter Gunter (Middlesex) and Greg Pearman (Surrey) kicked things off at 1ststring with the strength of Gunter taking him to a 3-0 win. Another 3-0, this time to Surrey asChris Harland beat James Ockwell . There were a few double takes when the 5th strings went on court as Mark Cowley, who had earlier played at 1 for the Over 55’s took on Dermot Hurford. This was a tough battle, and at 1-1 it looked as if Cowley might inch ahead as he went 8-6 up in the 3rd, however Hurford came back to 8-8 and took it 10-8 following an injury break by Cowley. Hurford then took the 4th 9/6 to put Surrey 2-1 up in the tie. Surrey seemed to have one hand on the trophy when Marc Aldridge went 2-1 and 5-0 up v Alan Thomson in the 3rd string match, but some tough rallies seemed to take their toll on Aldridge as Thomson battled back and took it 9/5. Deflated both mentally and physically, Aldridge struggled in the 5th and Thomson took it 9/4.
So the final would be decided on the outcome of the 2nd string match. Adrian Jaski showed his class, and played some lovely squash against James Hyatt, and won the match 3-0 and the title went to Middlesex 3-2.
A great weekend of competitive squash, was mirrored at the Saturday evening dinner held at the club, giving the players a chance to relax and socialise together.